Sons of Ulster going to their doom


"SONS of Ulster Marching Towards Their Doom" reads the front page headline in this week's Anglo Celt. It was a quote from Ms Dolores Smith, a member of Cavan County Council, who was addressing a meeting on the latest Orange march at Drumcree.

The same newspaper carries a report from Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, on Orangemen returning to the town after the county 12th march at Kesh.

"The Orangemen in full lodge regalia disembarked from their buses on the Lisnaskea Road and proceeded to march behind the local Border Defender's accordion band, playing in high decibel, Croppies Lie Down, escorted by a large force of riot clad police officers, dogs and Saracen jeeps."

When the march reached Main Street it was confronted by an agitated group of young nationalists who demanded the Orangemen disperse as they were a source of aggravation to the people of this most predominantly nationalist town". The police ordered the youths to disperse.

There was a 15 minute stand off, during which the Border Defender's band played, Croppies Lie Down and The Sash. The police baton charged and three youths were taken to hospital. The report says the riot police were mainly "very young officers" who apparently were prepared to inflict more serious injury but for the intervention of a senior mature officer".

The same senior officer later "was seen to reprimand senior Orangemen for having their followers loitering gloatfully on the apron of the Orange Hall". Their response was "a barrage of abuse concerning the Quiet Constable". Tension was so high in the town that afterwards "and for the first time in many years not a single Orangeman was to be seen in the vicinity of the town or in the public bars".

Groups of youths gathered and at about 11 p.m. Union bunting "that traditionally bedecks most towns in the North" (for the 12th) was "burned openly on the Main Street and an old car belonging to a local Protestant man was overturned and set alight and burned out". Windows in Protestant premises were broken, and the bus which had ferried the Orange men from Kesh was damaged in an attempt to burn it.

Police arrived and "military reinforcements", including "a most arrogant law enforcement officer" who "entered a public house in Lower Main Street uttering obscenities and breaking glasses while ordering customers off the premises. He engaged in physical combat with a customer, and made a hasty withdrawal when the situation for him became over engaged". The newspaper report concludes: "The cost of damage to the community relationships is inestimate and will take years to regain.

Drumcree dominates the editorials in the provincial papers. Except for the Wexford People, and who would blame them. "Hurling Heroes" is the title to their main editorial, though there is also one on the fall out from Drumcree. The win over Offaly in the Leinster senior hurling final, after 19 years in the wilderness, "has given the unity a long overdue morale boost", it says.

But in Galway at the moment they have other things on their minds. Apart from the Arts Festival, that is Digital. Digital was the first computer manufacturer to set up in Ireland. Galway was Digital's first step outside the US, and is now it's European Software Centre. The computer company is 25 years in Galway this year, and the Connacht Tribune has a special supplement to celebrate.

Which brings us to a story about sleep in the Longford Leader. About gardai arriving at a crash only to find a man asleep in one car and a woman asleep in another.

It transpired, in Strokestown District Court, that the woman and her husband had been returning from a night out when their car broke down. The husband went off to get help and the woman fell asleep. She was awakened by a garda, to find her car was a write off. "I must have been knocked out," she said later. The gardai, meanwhile, "tried for some time to waken the man in the other car".

They did, and he moved to the passenger seat. Later, he was found to have 155 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. His solicitor, argued it wasn't clear the man was driving the car at the time. Judge Bernard Brennan hadn't "the slightest doubt" though. He fined the man £100 and suspended him from driving for two years.